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Blow Hot, Blow Cold

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What NextDoes she? Doesn’t she? Is he going to stick by me? Or is he just passing time? Falling in love means having to grapple with these and similar questions…

When two people seem to share a mutual attraction, spend hours talking, weeks getting to know each other, and live in the same city, they should be getting close to the ‘Happy ever after’ ending, shouldn’t they? Wrong. Sometimes, its possible that such an idyllic ending eludes this duo forever – especially if one of the two is accustomed to behaving in a ‘blow-hot-blow-cold’ fashion.

To some extent, being moody, or showing a different approach to your friend or partner at different stages of a relationship is natural, and we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t show signs of this. Of course, ideally, we should stay wonderfully committed, loving, sincere and even-tempered with our partners. But, more often than not we are loving one day, irritable the next, distracted the third, and so on.

However, this is still tolerable, and any partner interested in continuing a relationship will normally take such evidence of human frailty in his or her stride. What makes things unbearably frustrating for one is the deliberate manipulation of emotions by the selective attention and affection given by the other. This is what brings relationships to breaking point through the gradual erosion of trust.

“My first girlfriend was terribly manipulative,” recalls Shashidhar, a Customer Care executive accustomed to soothing irate clients. “I was in a relationship with her for four years, from our last year in school through our college days. Now when I recall, I wonder what I saw in her, what made me put up with the kind of treatment she was dishing out. For example – for the first three years, she wouldn’t even accept that we were in a relationship! I was allowed to get close, but not too close. At some points, I thought she liked me, at other points, she would shower attention on another guy, one of our seniors. In fact, it was as if she used to ‘punish’ me – if I behaved too much like a boyfriend, she would ignore me for a few days, then when I was in danger of giving up and moving on, she would turn all sweet again.”

This admission by someone who has been victim to a ‘hot-and-cold’ strategy is fairly revealing as it shows some typical traits of manipulative people – they are insecure and like to have you as part of their admiring coterie, even as they don’t want to grant you exclusive rights and lose their freedom. “I grew up with very romantic ideas of a love marriage,” says Deepti. “All through my childhood, I was sure that I would meet someone, fall in love, and everything would be great. But the first guy I met turned out to be such a roller-coaster ride! First he seemed mad to want to know me, then when I began to show interest, he retreated. Then when my friends began asking him why he was behaving like a creep, he came back all apologetic, but every now and then, we would get into some small ego problem that he would make into a big issue. Finally, at the end of six months or so, he told me he couldn’t commit, and I decided to end the relationship. What’s the point of being in a relationship only on someone else’s terms?” Deepti settled for an arranged marriage after this episode. “My trust had been shaken – in the whole business of ‘falling in love’” she says.

Out of all the people who exist in the wide world, there are those who seem to be playing mind-games, destroying your confidence, making you feel frustrated and dejected when you want to be happy. Such people are best avoided. Relationships are best built on trust – when you can trust someone absolutely not to exploit your affection, sincerity, enthusiasm and hope. If you are with someone who seems to be systematically destroying all such qualities, you may want to consider moving on.

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